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Independent schooling out of reach? Possibly not

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Just under half a million dollars to educate a child in the independent system in Australia. It’s a very scary number but while you could spend that amount accessing a private education you actually don’t have to.

According to the Australian Scholarship Group’s (ASG) report on the cost of education, the average cost of an independent secondary education is about $20,000 per year. The company provides finance for schooling.

The ASG report says that the cost of a private education has rocketed by 61% or $181,128 in the last 10 years and the cost of a faith based education by 54%. A government education while markedly cheaper has also climbed by 23%. Sydney is by far the most expensive place in which to educate a child privately at $547,414.

However, in stark contrast the Independent Schools Council of Australia’s (ISCA) estimate of the average cost of private schooling comes in a lot lower at $6441 a year.

Why the discrepancy? ISCA Executive Director Colette Colman said that “while ASG admit their school fee figures ‘represent the upper ranges that parents can reasonably expect to pay,’ they neglect to show just how small a proportion of Australia’s Independent schools are actually charging the kind of fees that could contribute to those sorts of cumulative costs.”

“ASG’s fee estimates stated in 2017 the national metropolitan upper-range figure parents could expect to pay in secondary school fees is $20,898 per annum”, she said. “However, the most recent official data available data shows a median Australian metropolitan Independent school fee of $6,441 per annum. Nationally, 70% of metropolitan Independent schools are charging below $10,000 per annum.”

Ms Colman went on to say that “fees in Independent schools vary greatly, with the majority of them much more affordable than modelling like ASG’s suggests. In addition, there are numerous ways parents can save on costs; with many Independent schools offering scholarships, all-inclusive fees, and discounts for siblings or lump sum payments. We would strongly urge parents to do their own research on the fees of schools that interest them.”

ISCA’s school fee information is derived from data of fees collected from all Australian Independent schools in 2016 (the most recent year for which accurate data is available), and reflects the great diversity that can be found across schools and between states and territories.

ASG last year stated that their school fee estimates were derived from a combination of 2013 and 2015 surveys of their parent members (and adjusted for CPI), which asked them to estimate various costs that they paid for their children’s schooling. They state these are a guide only and do not guarantee that they will represent actual costs. 

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